Some burning history. Feb 8. 2013 | Comments (0)
Recently, (Fall 2003) the National Park Service graciously spend a Sunday giving a group of Ozark Society members, including President Alice Andrews, a tour of the Lower Buffalo Wilderness prescribe burn research area and details of plans to expand the project to return the ecosystems to some ancient condition. We met the NPS folks, Sam Lail, David Mott, Tony Collins, Jim Mattingly, Angela Smith, and Rob Klein, at a horse trailhead below
Comments from the OS group included: Limit the burn to the 500 acres already burnt because the investment that the NPS has made in the project. Others felt like the NPS could have been more informative about plans for burns in earlier management plans. Others and I commented that the wilderness areas are so small and are just trying to recover from years of man’s manipulation that they “should just be left alone”.
I have read much about fire history in the last month from white man accounts, tree ring data, Native American accounts, lightning started fires, to history on open woods, prairies, savannas, regional fires, buffalo and elk. I concluded that here have been lots of research dollars spent on determining how “man” has devastated the wilderness in modern times.
The question may not be “Should we restore it?” but “Can we restore it?”. There may be too many parts missing.
While the NPS had much higher level of education and training in the fields of botany, ecosystems, fire history, animal habitat, I think they are overlooking recent history and are missing the big picture. The NPS is trying to restore just a very small portion of the Ozark landscape without any plans to change the surrounding lands including other public lands. I know land managers do not want to talk about “Man and the Biosphere (MAB)” and the Ozark/Ouachita Highlands Assessment project that has died on the vine. Although they told me there is no mandate from
My conclusion is that without restoring buffalo and elk populations (along with bear, mountain lion and wolf), stopping adjacent property owners from clearing land, and implementing heavy vegetation manipulation (timber removal, herbicide use, annual fires and replanting, the 12 thousand acres of the Lower Buffalo Wilderness will never be returned to the condition it was 400 years ago. So why are we spending all the time and money on it?